Paperbacks to Look Out for in September 2019

Cover image Sadly, paperbacks on offer this September are as disappointing as new titles for me. Just the smallest of handfuls appeals, one of which I’ve already read, I owe my short story conversion largely to Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women. Given that she died in 2004, I’d assumed that was it and so was delighted when Evening in Paradise turned up. Comprising twenty-two stories, it lacks the more detailed biographical notes included in A Manual for Cleaning Women but it’s clear that it also draws on her own life and what a rackety life it was: several marriages, four children and alcoholism followed a peripatetic childhood spent in mining towns with a brief glamorous teenage period in Chile. Even if you’re not a short story fan, please do give Berlin’s writing a try. It’s superb.

Lidia Yuknavitch’s Dora: A Headcase is billed as a coming-of-age story which draws on Freud’s famous case study of the eponymous young woman. Ida is secretly in love with her best friend but is struck dumb or faints whenever intimacy appears on the horizon. Her father sends her to a shrink but Ida, together with her alter ego, Dora, sets about subverting Siggy’s head games by covertly filming him. The result goes viral and Ida finds herself the victim of hackers.  ‘Yuknavitch’s Dora is radical and unapologetic – you won’t have met a character quite like her before’ say the publishers. It sounds intriguing.

I do like a good satire but one which deals with war is  tricky to pull off. The Guardian Cover image clearly thought that Mohammed Hanif managed it with Red Birds, naming it one of their books of last year. An American pilot crashes his plane in the middle of the desert and is taken in by the very refugee camp he was supposed to bomb. Major Ellie finds his views turned upside down by both refugees and aid workers, by the sound of it, in what the publishers describe as a ‘savage, irreverent and deliciously dark’ novel.

And that, I’m afraid, is it for September. A click on Evening in Paradise will take you to my review and to a more detailed synopsis for the other two. If you’d like to catch up with new titles, they’re here. With publishers’ marketing eyes firmly fixed on Christmas, I’m sure October will offer a plethora of potential goodies to make up for September’s dearth. At least, I hope so.

19 thoughts on “Paperbacks to Look Out for in September 2019”

  1. I didn’t know there was another by Lidia Yuknovitch coming. I loved The Book of Joan. Red Birds is very good; I read it last year, purely because we had Mohammed Hanif at MLF and I thought it was superb.

  2. I think I’m only tempted by the Yuknavitch (which is a good thing because the Melbourne Writers Festival is in a fortnight and I always come away with so many books).

  3. Ah, another collection of stories from Lucia Berlin, that’s certainly something to be thankful for. Like you, I was wowed by the quality of her writing in A Manual for Cleaning Women, so it’s good to know there’s more to look forward to here. She has such an eye for detail – little slices of life from a fractured world.

  4. Slim pickings indeed but I’m excited about there being more Lucia Berlin. A Manual for Cleaning Women was a revelation when I read it a couple of years ago, so it’s good to hear that there are additional stories coming out.

  5. God, I love Lucia Berlin so much. The writing and the life. What a human. Had no idea another Yuknavitch was on the horizon – Dora sounds quite mad but then The Book of Joan was also quite mad and absolutely amazing…

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